HARTFORD, Conn., August 3, 2011 ― Aetna (NYSE: AET) and Whalers Sports & Entertainment today announced a new agreement making Aetna the first member of the “Whalers Alliance.”  The Whalers Alliance refers to companies and corporations who have made significant, long-term commitments to the mission of Whalers Sports & Entertainment (WSE).

CT WhaleAetna (NYSE: AET) and WSE have signed a three-year agreement valued at nearly $500,000, which is highlighted by Aetna’s becoming the title sponsor of the Whale’s new Amateur Hockey program.

“Aetna has really stepped up here with a significant commitment to hockey in Connecticut,” said Howard Baldwin, chairman and chief executive officer of WSE.  “Aetna’s support will allow us to do even more exciting things for youth hockey and adult recreational hockey, helping to grow the game more and more.  Just as importantly, this agreement affirms that Aetna shares our vision of the Whale, and an enhanced hockey market, helping to revitalize downtown Hartford and make our city an even more attractive place for young professionals to live and work.  This is exactly the type of corporate backing that we need to make professional hockey in Connecticut absolutely the most it can be.”

“Aetna is pleased to continue its 158-year commitment to supporting a vibrant Connecticut community and the Hartford area in particular by becoming the first member of the Whalers Alliance,” said Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman, CEO and president. “In particular, we see it as vitally important to the health of our children to encourage their interest in physical activity. The Connecticut Whale’s efforts to engage children in sports, as well as in education and sportsmanship, is a positive for children and families in Hartford and across the state.”

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As part of the Aetna-sponsored Whale Amateur Hockey program, each player on every team that plays one of its games at the XL Center prior to a Whale game will receive a “Whale of an Experience.”  That package includes a personalized locker name plate, a team photo and a welcome bag, and every amateur game will be treated like an actual professional game, with music and a public address announcer.  Each team will also receive a DVD recap of the game.

Aetna also will foster good sportsmanship in the game of hockey, with the selection of the “Aetna Clean Team of the Month” throughout the hockey season, publicized through the Whale’s official website, www.ctwhale.com.  Additionally, there will be an “Aetna Stick Kid of the Game” at each 2011-12 Whale home game, giving a deserving youngster an ice-level look at all that goes into the equipment preparation for a Whale game.

“It is exciting to kick off the Whalers Alliance, and support the organization’s momentum and energy. We encourage other Connecticut corporations to join us in building the team’s presence in Connecticut not only to help revitalize professional hockey here, but also to support the businesses downtown that benefit when families come to Hartford,” said Floyd Green, vice president of Community Relations and Urban Marketing at Aetna. “We look forward to working with the WSE team and the Connecticut Whale players to build on their success and continue to engage with the community.”

Season tickets for the 2011-12 Whale season are available now, with a special early bird discount. Call (860) 728-3366 for information on that, as well as all Whale ticket packages, group sales and VIP packages.  More details on the Amateur Hockey Program can be obtained by contacting Jocelyne Cummings in the Whale office at that same number, (860) 728-3366.

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